|City of license||Cleveland Heights, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland|
|Slogan||The People's Station|
|First air date||December 12, 1947|
|Power||1,000 watts (daytime)
1,000 watts (nighttime)
|Callsign meaning||W "Lake ERiE"
carried over from WERE (1300 AM)
|Former callsigns||WSRS (1947–58)
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio
Cumulus Media Networks
(Blue Chip Broadcasting Licenses, Ltd.)
|Sister stations||WENZ, WJMO, WZAK|
WERE (1490 AM) – branded NewsTalk 1490 – is a commercial news/talk radio station licensed to Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Owned by Radio One, the station serves Greater Cleveland. In the Cleveland radio market, WERE is the AM affiliate for The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and the sole affiliate for Redding News Review, Red Eye Radio, and ABC News Radio, while sharing Keepin' it Real with Rev. Al Sharpton with sister station WJMO. The WERE studios are located in Downtown Cleveland, while the station transmitter resides near University Circle.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2012)|
WSRS, founded by Samuel R. Sague on December 12, 1947, broadcast 24-hours a day on 1490 kHz while licensed to suburban Cleveland Heights, and had an FM sister station of WSRS-FM at 95.3 MHz (now WKRK-FM). WSRS (AM)/WSRS-FM billed itself as the "Community Information Voice of Cleveland".
On February 1, 1958, Friendly Broadcasting of Columbus assumed control of WSRS 1490-AM and 95.3-FM from Sam R. Sague, and switched callsigns, studios/facilities, and staffs, selling off their former frequencies to Tuschman Broadcasting Company. WJMO took over the former WSRS offices at 2156 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, and WSRS-FM became WJMO-FM, later WCUY. The 1540-AM facility became WABQ with the switch (whose format and call letters currently reside at 1460-AM) and the 106.5 facility ultimately signed on as WABQ-FM, and became WXEN in 1960. The 1540-AM frequency is currently WWGK, while the 106.5 facility is now home to WHLK.
Shortly after the frequency change in the early 1960s, WJMO moved to a black-oriented R&B format. In 1970 a dispute arose over working conditions and the lack of blacks in key positions. Key station personnel staged a "sick out," which took the station off the air. The dispute attracted the involvement of a number of groups, including the Cleveland chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The SCLC asked sponsors to withhold advertising from WJMO or face a boycott by black community groups. In retaliation, the personnel involved in the "sick out" were fired. In the efforts to resolve matters, the fired personnel were reinstated, and Kennard "Ken" Hawkins was appointed the station's general manager. Hawkins became the first African American to hold that position at a Cleveland radio station.
United Broadcasting ran into problems with the FCC regarding the operation of its stations in Washington and Miami. It was also alleged that Eaton bribed the ABC network to gain favorable terms for three of its stations.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, United Broadcasting had other problems. On December 11, 1973, station vice president Van Lane (real name Morris Schecter) and engineer John Rees of Washington's WRC radio pled guilty in federal court to charges of bugging Hawkins' office. It was later revealed that the lines were linked between Hawkins' office at the station and Lane's home in Shaker Heights. Lane and Rees were fined $500 each. Former United Broadcasting controller and VP Morton Silverman of Columbia, Maryland, was also charged with three felony counts of illegal wiretapping, but the Justice Department agreed to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.
A year later, on December 2, 1974, Washington-based attorney Roy F. Perkins, Jr., the former attorney for United Broadcasting, pled guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor charge of bugging Hawkins' office. He was fined $2,000. Perkins claimed that he authorized the bugging because of rumors of payola at the station.
In January 1990, United Broadcasting re-acquired the 92.3 MHz facility, by now WRQC, and changed its callsign to WJMO-FM. United Broadcasting sold WJMO and WJMO-FM in 1992 to Zebra Communications, owned by Xenophon Zapis (owner of Zapis Communications and WZAK), Lynn Tolliver (WZAK program director) and Bobby (Otis) Rush (WZAK DJ). Although Tolliver and Rush were both African Americans, Zapis was a key party in the new ownership, and the sale was contested by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The sale was approved by the FCC in 1993, and WJMO became the first radio station with significant African American ownership in the Cleveland area. In 1994, as a result of the legal battles, the SCLC gained significant control of WJMO, which was seen as less profitable than WJMO-FM and WZAK.
The SCLC appointed a local group (dubbed NewCo) that directly had an input in stations' programming, and produced talk and public affairs shows between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Meanwhile, due to the high legal fees incurred by Zapis, Zebra and the SCLC, all of the local deejays on the station were replaced with ABC Radio's "Solid Gold Soul" music service. In addition, the call letters of the FM station were changed to WZJM – a combination of WZAK and WJMO. (The WJMO-FM calls did resurface on the 99.5 MHz facility in Washington, DC – then co-owned with WJMO – in 1999. Today it broadcasts as WIHT.)
On August 12, 1998, Chancellor Media Corporation of Texas announced its purchase of WJMO and WZJM from Zebra Communications, along with its purchase of four other Cleveland radio stations, WZAK, WDOK 102.1-FM, WQAL 104.1-FM, and WRMR 850-AM, for $275 million. It was, at the time, the largest radio deal in Cleveland broadcasting history.
On July 13, 1999, Chancellor Media merged with Capstar Broadcasting (which at the time owned WKNR) to form AMFM Inc., at that time the nation's largest radio station owner with 465 stations. AMFM sold WZAK and WJMO to Radio One on July 20, 2000 as part of a required divestiture when AMFM merged with Clear Channel Communications.
The station became a gospel music outlet on May 17, 1999 after nearly forty years with an rhythm & blues format, which was reputed by many to have been the longest running such station in the country.
On June 4, 2007, Radio One radio stations WJMO (1490 AM) and WERE (1300 AM) were involved in what was then reported as a "frequency trade". In reality, these two stations swapped call letters along with their respective formats. WJMO changed its call letters to WERE, and changed its format to news/talk.
Weekday programming includes The Tom Joyner Morning Show (from Cumulus Media Networks) aired in simulcast with sister station WZAK in morning drive; Trending Today with Carl Nelson and Keepin' it Real with Al Sharpton (both from Syndication One) air middays through early afternoon (Sharpton's show is simulcast on sister gospel station WJMO AM 1300); local program America's Workforce hosted by Ed "Flash" Ferenc airs in afternoon drive (and replayed in the late evenings); and Rob Redding's self-syndicated Redding News Review and Red Eye Radio hosted by Eric Harley and Gary McNamara (from Cumulus) air in the overnight hours. Hourly updates from ABC News Radio air at the top of the hour. Through the week, various brokered programming airs in the evening hours.
Weekend programming includes syndicated talk shows hosted by Bob Brinker, Geraldo Rivera and Larry Kudlow (all from Cumulus), Keep Hope Alive with Jesse Jackson Sunday nights (from Premiere Networks) and various ethnic programming on Sundays.
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